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The Illusionist's Apprentice ~ Review

The Illusionist's Apprentice
By Kristy Cambron

Wren Lockhart is hiding a secret, and not just the secrets as to her illusions and how she performs them. Rather her secret is one that goes back to the moment her childhood ended 20 years prior and she'll do anything to protect what is hers...

But when a publicly touted illusion goes very wrong Wren becomes a person of interest to the FBI just because she witnessed the illusion from the outer fringes. But working with the FBI could hurt her reputation as an illusionist and bring the scorn of those within the profession upon her. But lives and reputations are at stake including Wren's and the FBI agents who are seeking the truth.

The Illusionist's Apprentice takes the reader back in time. The main focus of the book is set in 1927 with backstory reveals throughout that that take the reader to 1907, 1910 and 1916 as key moments from Wren's past are revealed. This is an intricate and complex illusion that will take all of Wren's efforts to discover who is behind this illusion. But she can't do it alone and must rely on the unwanted and, yet, appreciated help of the FBI - specifically Agent Elliot Matthews and his partner Agent Connor Finegan.  

Take a step back in time to the 1920's when life was not so technically tethered and enjoy a mystery that is wrapped in the deceptive and alluring power of illusion. The book is as entertaining as the cover hints at it being. Historical fiction, romance, and mystery this book will captivate you from the opening page. 

I was provided a review copy of this book by the Fiction Guild with no expectations of a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own. 

About the Book:
Not all illusions happen on the stage...

Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.

Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.

In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.

Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her. Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.


My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains ~ Review

My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains
Carmela's Quandry
By Susan Page Davis

Carmela Wade has been forced to live a lie perpetrated by her Uncle Silas. And she knows no one can help her escape it. Though orphaned she has never been the Indian captive her uncle has promoted her as. Carmela's entertaining and sensationalized lies have lined her uncle's pockets.

But when the stagecoach she and her uncle are traveling on is attacked, she finds herself in a completely unexpected situation. She's stranded in the middle of the Arizona Territory handcuffed to Deputy US Marshall Freeland McKay. Could this provide Carmela with the opportunity she has hoped for over the years? Or will she all too soon find herself again under her uncle's control?

This is a mildly entertaining book about second chances and redemption. The setting is the Arizona Territory in the 1860's following the Civil War. I was expecting more with the Superstition Mountains as it was so prominent in the title, so I was a little disappointed that they were just mentioned a few times and not even approached. This book is classified as a romance - which is very slight (a plus in my opinion) but if you are expecting more courting you may be disappointed.  If you are looking for a light read that will provide a few hours of reading escape you'll enjoy this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:
Since being orphaned at age twelve, Carmela Wade has lived a lie, a lie orchestrated by her uncle, pretending to be a survivor of an Indian kidnapping and profiting from telling her made-up story on the speaker circuit. But as she matures into adulthood, Carmela hates the lies and longs to be free. On a stagecoach in Arizona Territory, Carmela and her uncle are fellow passengers with US Marshal Freeland McKay and his handcuffed prisoner.

The stage is attacked. Now a chance to make a new life may suddenly be within Carmela’s reach, if she can survive the harsh terrain and being handcuffed to an unconscious man.
Will Carmela’s wish come true, or will she forever be branded by her past?


Catching the Wind ~ Review

Catching the Wind 
By Melanie Dobson

Catching the Wind is a beautiful story about the power of keeping a promise. This promise was one made nearly 80 years before and for Daniel Knight, time is running out. He is determined to keep Brigette, his childhood friend, safe and to see her again as he promised all those years ago before circumstance and war separated them.

This story takes the reader between the past and the present day as the search for Brigitte Berthold unfolds. Daniel and Brigitte escaped from the Gestapo who took their parents. But that is just the beginning of their journey as they make their way to England and safety. But the safety they hoped for was was not to be. And since the day Daniel last saw Brigitte he has wondered what became of her...

Seventy-seven years have passed and all Daniel's efforts to find his childhood friend have hit dead ends.  When Quenby Vaughn comes to Daniel's attention he is convinced that this young woman may be just who he needs. Quenby has a heart as her journalistic endeavors have shown and Daniel needs someone who will invest their heart in his search of a lifetime.

But convincing Quenby to take the job may be a tad difficult. And unfortunately for Lucas Hough he has been tasked with trying to get Quenby to accept the challenge. But Brigitte's story has a powerful pull and Quenby can't help but find herself intrigued by the mystery.

The mystery of Brigitte is about to coincide with a story that Quenby has been working on. A story that could very well expose a hidden secret, a secret that someone wants to keep hidden. And they are willing to do anything to stop Quenby and Lucas as they join forces in their search.

I have never read Melanie Dobson's work before and was thrilled to discover her work. She brings her characters to life. The back and forth between the past and the present is not detracting and just adds to the story's pull.  This book will appeal to those who love historical fiction with a very obvious thread of mystery that runs throughout. Also appealing is the gradual unveiling of Quenby's own story.

I was provided a complimentary review copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own

About the Book:
What happened to Brigitte Berthold?

That question has haunted Daniel Knight since he was thirteen, when he and ten-year-old Brigitte escaped the Gestapo agents who arrested both their parents. They survived a harrowing journey from Germany to England, only to be separated upon their arrival. Daniel vowed to find Brigitte after the war, a promise he has fought to fulfill for more than seventy years.

Now a wealthy old man, Daniel’s final hope in finding Brigitte rests with Quenby Vaughn, an American journalist working in London. He believes Quenby’s tenacity to find missing people and her personal investment in a related WWII espionage story will help her succeed where previous investigators have failed. Though Quenby is wrestling her own demons—and wary at the idea of teaming up with Daniel’s lawyer, Lucas Hough—the lure of Brigitte’s story is too much to resist. Together, Quenby and Lucas delve deep into the past, following a trail of deception, sacrifice, and healing that could change all of their futures.


Peace in the Valley ~ Review

Peace in the Valley
Double S Ranch #3
By Ruth Logan Herne

Trey Walker Stafford is coming home to the Double S Ranch, hoping to repair Sam Stafford for rescuing him after his parents' death.  Trey's the best match for providing Sam with the liver donation he needs to live and he has to do this for Sam even if the potential risks have him scared as to the outcome.

Unfortunately, Trey's return home is less than peaceful when he's involved in an incident that results in his neighbor's car being damaged. Lucy Carlton has yet another grievance to add to her list of wrongs the Stafford's have committed. But when Trey makes good on his promise to repair the damage he's caused no one is more surprised than Lucy. But she's suspicious of just what Trey's intentions are. Is she a charity case that he can chalk up on his good deeds list or is his concern genuine? Lucy and her kids are about to find out just who Trey is and Lucy is prepared for yet another disappointment in her life.

Peace in the Valley is the third book in the Double S Ranch series that focuses on the Stafford family and Gray's Glen.  This series follows family patriarch Sam Stafford and his change of heart. His life was spent trying to make the Double S Ranch a name to be reckoned with at the cost of his sons, his marriages, and the neighbors around him. Now with his health in a marked decline, Sam is trying to repair the years of damage he has done.  Each book in the series focuses on a different son and this book focuses on his third son Trey, who isn't his son by birth but rather his adopted nephew.

This is a book that focuses on family, faith and the power of redemption. Peace in the Valley is Trey's search for peace in his life - the peace he knows is possible but which has escaped him due to the losses he has experienced.  And this is a story of second chances and that everyone deserves this chance.

Readers who haven't read the first two books in this series can easily read and follow this story and later go back to read the previous books. For those who are interested in genre placement, this is a contemporary Christian romance fiction. This would be a good vacation read to take with you.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher through Blogging for Books with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:
In spite of their differences, Trey Walker Stafford knows he owes his life to cowboy and legendary rancher Sam Stafford—the uncle who rescued him after his parents’ death. Trey had left the Double S Ranch to pursue music against Sam’s wishes, but returns to central Washington when he learns he’s the best match for a procedure that could save Sam’s life. Although Trey’s found country music fame and success, he’s also endured the tragic loss of his wife. He croons about love, but struggles with a yawning emptiness he can’t explain.

Overwhelmed by a growing list of challenges, but mistrustful of Stafford men, single mother Lucy Carlton reluctantly accepts Trey’s help to revive her crumbling farm when Sam instructs him to repay the overdue debt to her family.

As the two grow closer, Trey slowly begins to open his heart to this beautiful woman and strives to let go of the grief he’s held for years. Lucy has a complicated history of her own. Can Trey accept her as she is, learn to forgive the past, and find the elusive peace he's sought for so long?

About the Author:
Ruth Logan Herne has more than a million books in print, including eighteen Love Inspired contemporary novels and Back in the Saddle, Book 1 in the Double S Ranch series. Ruth is a founding member of Seekerville, a popular writing-collective blog. A country girl who loves the big city, Ruth and her husband live on a farm in upstate New York.

Shatter ~ Review with Excerpt and Giveaway

By Nikki Trionfo

It is Salem's junior year in high school, but nothing is as it should be. Her sister is dead and Salem is convinced that Carrie's death was no accident. But how do you prove something when no one believes it is possible?

Set in the heart of California's farming community of Verona a clash is about to take place one that will pit growers against pickers. And Salem finds herself in the middle with her father, a grower, and Carrie's legacy as a union supporter. Who could have wanted to hurt Carrie? And even more disturbing who buried a murdered worker in their orchard and is it related to Carrie's death?

Determined to learn the truth about Carrie and her death, Salem enters into a dangerous quest for the truth. One that brings to light a secret that Carrie was keeping, one that could explain why she was targeted. But without knowing the why of Carrie's actions a very large question still remains who. And finding the answer just may cost Salem her life.

The deeper she delves the more questions she raises and she questions who she can truly trust.  Time is running out as the area threatens to erupt over workers' rights.

This book will open the reader's eyes to the plight of migrant/immigrant workers and the fears that they face as the attempt to support their families. The power and draw of gangs is also explored throughout this book.

The book moves forward from the first day of school with flashbacks to key moments in Salem's life that play a role in explaining what lead to Carrie's death.  This is a powerful and moving story that teens will be drawn into. This is a realistic read that will expose readers to a world that they may know little about other than an occasional news snippet they hear.

I highly recommend this book for tween and teen readers and it would make an excellent choice for a book club reading selection. This will be a book to keep them reading all night - which with summer just around the corner would be an excellent all nighter.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review.

About the Book:

“We never knew there could be people in the orchard. 
Dangerous people.”

When a mysterious explosion kills her sister, Salem becomes convinced the death was no accident--it was a conspiracy. But no one else at her high school believes her, and all she has so far are theories and clues. With Carrie's killers still out there, Salem's not sure who she can trust. If she can't she prove she’s right before it’s too late, the conspiracy might take another life—hers.


The class is dead silent. Mr. White’s lips tighten. He swallows. There’s something
dangerous about the new guy. The teacher leans over AddyDay’s desk and spins her packet so he
can read the list of partnerships. “Fine. We’ll break up the threesome. You’ll pair with . . . Salem

At the sound of my name, I turn to look at my new partner.

The guy near the door is tall. He has the kind of incredible good looks that invite stares,
but that’s not the only reason he’s getting them now. The cursive lettering of a tattoo rises from
the opening of the guy’s worn flannel shirt. Two gold chains hang from his brown neck. A guy
accessorized in gang paraphernalia, not caked with it. His only completely visible marking is an
upside down V inked onto his right cheekbone, black and distinct. The tattoo calls my attention
for some reason, even though I’m sure I’ve never seen a symbol like that before. An upside
down V . . . it seems so familiar.

His expressionless, dark eyes dart to meet my gaze from under a stiff, backward-facing
ball cap. My classmates watch him stare at me.

“Salem Jefferson,” he says slowly, putting a slight emphasis on my last name. He waits
for my response.

I realize he knows exactly who Salem Jefferson is. Exactly who I am. I’m Carrie’s sister.

Terrified, I whirl back around to face forward. Gang members targeted Carrie, made her
frightened. Was he one of them? The skin between my shoulder blades tightens. Why were gang
guys after Carrie?

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Author Bio:

Nikki Trionfo lives in Riverton, Utah with five kids, a CrossFit-training husband who writes computer code, and lots of hip hop background music. Her teen murder mystery, SHATTER (May '17 from Cedar Fort), won the grand prize in LDStorymakers’ First Chapter Alongside Heather Clark, she hosts free writing webinars on YouTube at #50FirstChapters.

A committed party-girl, Nikki serves as the social coordinator of LDStorymakers Conference and chair of Storymakers Tribe. Other notable stuff includes an honorable mention in Writers of the Future and a spot in Utah Horror Writer's shorty-story anthology. This all sounds really serious, but if you run into her, she gets down. Truly.

Learn more:
Dig into the Shatter World. Books about unions and reformed gang members. Blogs about my experiences writing with diversity. Some of the posts are League of Utah Writers award-winning essays.


~ Red Nose Day ~

Called to Help

As we near the start of summer and think about vacations and time off with families there are others who are not nearly as fortunate to enjoy those luxuries. On May 25th NBC television will air Red Nose Day, a live telecast aimed at ending child poverty.

Red Nose Day is unique in that multiple charitable organizations will benefit from the three hour live program that night. The event is all about coming together, to have fun, and make a difference for kids in need.  The goal is to end child poverty, here in the U.S. and around the world -- one nose at a time.
The fundraiser began in 1988 by U.K. director, Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and recently started in the U.S. Red Nose Day raised over $36 million in 2016, and over $23 million the previous year, totaling over $60 million in its first two years in the US.
The two charities among many others that will benefit from Red Nose Day are Covenant House and charity: water.  These are both Christian organizations that everyday work tireless to make a difference here at home in the U.S. and around the world. What’s staggering with the statistics is that this is happening right here in the U.S.

We’ve learned from Red Nose Day charities that:

  • 1 out of 5 young people live in poverty.

  • Every Year, More Than 2 Million Kids in America Will Face a Period of Homelessness.
  • 57% of homeless kids spend at least one day every month without food.
It’s heartbreaking with regards to the homeless kids and youth as it puts them in such danger of human traffickers – something I know so many of our churches and organizations fight against.  We have an opportunity to make a difference and keep some of these kids away from the streets.
We hope you will consider taking the time to help those in need and checking out both ministries and finding a way however big or small to support them. We’re called to help those in need and we often forget that although we are fortunate to live in a country that provides us with a lot – there are many children right in front of us who struggle to even get a meal a day. We hope you’ll think about ways you can help our youth and even join in on the fun and put on a Red Nose and post to your social channels with the hashtag: #rednoseday

Red Noses are available at all Walgreen locations.  For those wanting to do something fun and get involved, stop by Walgreens and buy a red nose.

We do believe that if we can all raise awareness about this issue – we can all end child poverty one nose at a time!


For readers, churches, community leaders  -anyone-  who would like more information, 
who would like to help spread the word about Red Nose Day 
on Thursday, May 25 and/or to donate please visit:


Ed Sheeran and Peaches Special Feature:


Julia Roberts Special Feature:


More Than a Soldier ~ Spotlight with Giveaway

More Than a Soldier 
~ based on a true story ~
is Angelo DiMarco’s powerful story of survival, 
resilience and courage.

Book Details:

Book Title: More Than a Soldier: One Army Ranger's Daring Escape From the Nazis

Author: D.M. Annechino

Category: Adult Fiction, 316 pages

Genre: Historical Biography, WWII

Publisher: CreateSpace

Release date: April 2017

Content Rating: PG-13 (A few four-letter words and violence associated with war)

Tour dates: April 24 to May 19, 2017

Book Description:

Feeling a patriotic duty to defend his country after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, seventeen year old, Angelo J. DiMarco, enlists in the U.S. Army. Severely short of frontline fighters, the Army rushes Angelo through Ranger training and sends him to Italy as part of the 1st Ranger Battalion. Their objective: stop the German invasion.

Fighting on the front lines in Italy, the German’s teach Angelo a sobering lesson on life when they capture him during the bloody battle of Cisterna. Against insurmountable odds, Angelo miraculously escapes in a way that stretches the imagination. He survives behind enemy lines for over five months, hiding from the Germans and trying to outmaneuver them. He begs for food, sleeps in barns and suffers from many ailments, including dehydration, malnutrition, malaria and exposure to the elements.

More Than a Soldier is Angelo DiMarco’s powerful story of survival, resilience and courage.

Buy the Book: 


Praise for More Than a Soldier:

Annechino colorfully draws the actions scenes, and richly brings the supporting cast of characters to life. A moving tale of survival in war-torn Europe.
- Kirkus Reviews

Nuanced and eloquently written, More Than a Soldier adds to the body of WWII literature an extraordinary story of survival and a deeply affecting portrait of a soldier’s coming-of-age.
- The iRead Review

Meet the Author:

Daniel M. Annechino, a former book editor, wrote his first book, How to Buy the Most Car for the Least Money, while working as a General Manager in the automobile business. But his passion had always been fiction, particularly thrillers. He spent two years researching serial killers before finally penning his gripping and memorable debut novel They Never Die Quietly. He has written and published five novels—all thrillers. But his latest work, More Than a Soldier, is a Historical Biography set in Italy during WWII.

A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer. He loves to cook, enjoys a glass of vintage wine, and spends lots of leisure time on the warm beaches of Southern California.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


April 24 - Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / giveaway
April 24 - Puddletown Reviews - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
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April 26 - A Mama's Corner of the World - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
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